Adapting African Agriculture To Climate Change

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Climate change threatening food production in Africa. Photo: Pixabay

By Laura Tuck and Hafez Ghanem

Climate change is already putting huge stress on Africa’s food production systems. And, according to projections, worse is coming. As Ministers for Agriculture from across the continent gather in Kigali for the Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue, ensuring a secure and sustainable food supply must be at the center of their minds.

Over the past 20 years, Sub-Saharan Africa’s farming sector has grown faster than anywhere else in the world, with an average 4.6 percent agricultural GDP growth rate from 2000 to 2018 – that’s 1.4 percentage points higher than any other region. Thanks to infrastructure advances, such as roads and telecommunications and an increase in farm sizes, farmers are becoming better connected to markets to sell their crops and livestock at better prices and to obtain inputs and services such as seeds and insurance.

But these gains in agricultural growth are being eroded by climate change-induced production shocks that push countries backward. Since 2007, Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced four major reductions in annual per capita food production. All of these declines coincided with severe droughts and floods. The frequency of large weather-related production losses has increased from once every 12.5 years (the average for 1982-2006) to once every 2.5 years (the average for 2007-2016). The large drop in food production during 2015-16 coincided with severe drought in East and Southern Africa and contributed to a rise in the prevalence of hunger across all of Africa – from 18.2 percent in 2014 to 19.9 percent in 2018. Read more…

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